I’d waited 30 years, four months and 17 days to drive a Lamborghini. That’s 11,097 days – or more than 266,000 hours – Lambo-less.
But I just broke that life-long drought in the all-new 2015 Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 following a quick session in the Raging Bull’s most affordable model at an invitation-only track event at the Sydney Motorsport Park.
For the uninitiated, the Huracan is Lamborghini’s most affordable model, priced from $428,000 plus on-road costs. It replaced the Gallardo, which was the Italian maker’s biggest selling model ever, and the company already knows the Huracan will take that mantel over its life cycle.
By most people’s standards (myself very much included!), it’s hardly what you’d call ‘affordable’. But when you consider this bad boy starts about $100K cheaper than, say, the Ferrari 458 (which will be replaced by the 488 GTB later this year, and that new turbo model could be even dearer), the new Lambo base model could be considered a supercar bargain.
Powering the Huracan is a gruntier version of the Gallardo’s V10 engine, with the same 5.2-litre capacity now churning out 449kW of power (or 610 horsepower, hence the LP 610-4 name, with the 4 denoting the car’s all-wheel-drive system) and 560Nm of torque.
The maximum torque isn’t as eye-bulgingly high as some turbocharged supercars, but the V10’s high-revving nature means peak pulling power hits at 6500rpm, while max power hits at a staggering 8250rpm. Its performance claims are, as you might expect, quite staggering: 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds, 0-200km/h in 9.9sec.
Fuel use - not that you care if you're buying a supercar - is rated at 12.5L/100km, though I had no intention of monitoring consumption on this track-only test.
Power goes to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and there are three driving modes to choose from using the steering wheel-mounted ANIMA (Adaptive Network Intelligent Management, and also the Italian word for ‘soul’). The modes are Strada (street), Sport and Corsa (track).
The latter two modes were what I used during a limited track session at the circuit formerly known as Eastern Creek Raceway.
As you might expect from Lamborghini – particularly if you read our review of the Huracan at Fuji Speedway in Japan - this wasn’t a standard launch, where a manufacturer might have us driving for more than 300 kilometres in a day.
No, I had just 25 minutes of track time in the Huracan – all with a pilot driver in the lead to ensure I wasn’t being too silly … thankfully.
Before I could get out on to the track, I had to get in to the car. And after watching a fellow larger-than-average colleague trying (and failing) to do so with any semblance of grace, it became instantly clear that this is going to be a car that most people will look good sitting in or standing alongside of.
Once inside, the cockpit-like ambience of the cabin got my heart racing.
Everything from the high-resolution 12.3-inch TFT dashboard display (as is seen a number of other Volkswagen Group products, including the Audi TT I drove a few weeks back) to the angular dashboard design with its jutting edges screamed ‘exotic’ at first glance.
But if you look a little closer, there are some elements that are more grounded. The font on the buttons, for example, is shared with Audi, a nod to the cost saving elements that have been put in place in the Huracan.
Still, the fact there’s a missile-style flick switch that you have to raise in order to push the engine starter button adds a little theatre to the fire-up procedure. And then there’s the orchestra.
The mid-rear mounted V10 engine fires to life with a cacophony of noise, and even through the helmet I was wearing I could hear it – and only it – above my own pulse throbbing in my temples.
Exiting the pits – by selecting first gear using the enormous paddleshifters, not choosing D (because there is no D button!) – I made my way out on to the track in Strada mode.
The leather-lined steering wheel felt comfortable in my hands as soon as I applied the first little bit of lock, I knew there would be trustworthy response at higher speeds.
I gently applied some throttle for the first few hundred metres as the pace car set the speed, but was instantly amazed at how much noise there was in the cabin, even under light throttle, at sedate speeds, and with a helmet on. Because the V10 is churning petrol through its guts just behind your ear, it’s very dramatic.
The pace started to ramp up as we continued on our first lap, and I was thoroughly impressed with the bitey nature of the brakes. They’re standard carbon ceramic units, and along with ultra strong response, the feel through the pedal was excellent.
The pace car kept things moving, gradually increasing the momentum, and so I decided it was time to shift up from Strada to Sport mode.
In Strada mode, things are passenger-friendly, while Sport makes everything feel sharper – the steering, brakes, acceleration and gearbox all act more aggressively, and the moment I jumped back on the right pedal I knew this was going to be more enjoyable.
If I thought it was noisy exiting the pits, I was wrong – the amazing noise generated by the screaming V10 engine - revved out to more than 8000rpm – proved as much. It is earsplitting, but so very addictive.
Once redline was hit, the dual-clutch gearbox slammed into the next cog of choice. The transmission was smooth, almost docile, in Strada mode, but Sport sees punchier changes.
Sport also sees the steering go from good to great, with better weighting and more instinctive, sharp response at speed, particularly during quick changes of direction. At first I thought it may be a little slower than expected, but the precision with which the front end moves in response to the movements of your hands is spectacular – though that leather-wrapped tiller did get a bit slippery due to some nervous palms…
All the while when I was pushing the Huracan hard through the bends, the Magnetorhelogical suspension managed to keep it sitting flat – I’m talking pancake – with superb balance and control.
I was on a track, so I had to try Corsa mode. This is the ultimate drive mode for the ultimate experience of the car, and it didn’t disappoint.
The first thing that happens is the car goes to full manual mode, and the limits to which you can push it are extended even further because the traction control will allow the back end more room to move.
The change was instantly noticeable (not just because I bounced it off the redline down the back straight!), but in the way the Huracan went from sticky to slightly more lively, though the excellent Pirelli road tyres - developed specifically for Lamborghini - proved more than adequate when it came to keeping things on track.
There’s no more power on offer, but the engine was so free-revving, so gruff yet refined, it was thrilling to churn through the gears down the main straight, eclipsing 250km/h before again jumping on the trusty brake pedal and making my way around the track once more.
When the pilot driver decided it was time to head back in to the pits, I knew my brief yet hugely exciting drive was over.
So, was it worth the wait?
Well, should I not get the chance to drive another one in the next 30-odd years, I’ll be sorely disappointed… but I’m still hugely grateful for my first opportunity behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, even if it was only for about 25 minutes.